Meal times are a dreaded, dire time of day. You are a powder keg in your high chair, and anything can set you off. The wrong plate. Your sandwich falling apart. The fact that you are inside and not walking endlessly all over the neighbourhood. Nothing seems to satisfy your palette except some specially chosen foods: hash browns, deli meats, tuna, Nutella, the occasional piece of fruit. Each night is groundhog day and the refrain inevitably spirals into: “Cookies. Eve want. Eve want.”
It is enough to make me long for your liquid-diet days (the formula phase, not the breastfeeding blues).
And then Dora is not available after dinner, on demand, and it is a DISASTER. For everyone, not just you. Believe me, I felt like crying, too. I hadn’t realized how much I’d started to count on those sanity-saving, 23-minute increments.
But then one of those makes-it-all-worth-it moments happens later in the evening, and it forces me to take a step back and sit outside myself. I stop being the perpetually harried parent for a moment.
It is bedtime and I am counting down the minutes to me-time. I’m holding you in my arms and they are aching, but I push that aside. You’re wearing your fleece dinosaur sleeper and giving me big eyes because you know night-night is nigh. As I’m putting you in your crib, I lean close and whisper, “Mama loves you.” I mean it. Despite the toddler drama from dawn to dusk. And you lay your little freshly shampooed head on my shoulder and say, “Eve loves you, too.” And I think, man, I may be physically exhausted and mentally shattered, but that sentence right there ranks up amongst the best things I’ve ever heard. Period.